The ultimate rock bottom of effective prayer is in how to approach God, for God is where all things start and end.
If we wanted to travel through a strange country we would have to get some sort of permission or agreement with the top authority figure of that country. We would have to approach their 'king,' so to speak. But to do that, we would like to know what kind of king he is. What slant or approach shall we take in talking to him, and what are the hot No-no buttons with this king.
In a similar way, we need to understand the basic character of God, and how He feels about things, so we can know how to approach God. Our relationship with God determines how safely we get through this earthly life. It totally affects our journey.
If we expect to get answers to prayer, we have to exercise "Faith." But faith in whom, in what?
Do you say, "the promises of God"? Good. But promises are only as good as the one who makes them. Do you KNOW that God keeps His promises?
You may say, "the name and blood of Jesus." Good. But again, the strength of Jesus' name and His death on the cross are only as strong as His character. How well do you know the character and reliablity of Jesus?
It follows then that we must get to know God the Father, and Jesus, His Son. The more we understand of their character, the easier it will be for us to have faith in them, and thus how to approach God, or pray effectively.
But you don't have to be a seminary graduate or know all kinds of long theological words to understand God's character and to approach Him in bold faith. There have been, for example, many illiterate, hard-done-by women who have this knowledge deep in their hearts. They may not know the big words or have a higher education, but they do grasp the concepts, and have learned to apply them in their praying. So you can too! You can know how to approach God.
Here are some of the most basic characteristics of God - ones that have a great impact on our effective praying to Him;
If you do not really believe God exists, you won't be able to pray with any confidence or enthusiasm. First you must know in the depths of Your being that God IS, He says one of His names is I AM. That tells us that God has always existed from the beginning of eternity (which of course, it never had, or it wouldn't be eternity) to the end of eternity (which for the same reason never ends). We can never plumb the depths of the everlastingness of God, but if we think about it, and worship Him for it - it will greatly increase our confidence that God can answer our prayers.
God is not limited to a human body as we are. He is invisible and and able to be anywhere and everywhere at will. Nothing, but NOTHING escapes His notice! Because God is not limited to a body, or time, or place, or strength, He can answer prayers anywhere, any time in glorious majesty and power! Furthermore, He can knit all the answers to all the prayers being prayed to Him together to form a far greater answer than any one of us can imagine! As a Spirit God He is able to be in and with each believer, as well as in Heaven, on His brilliant throne. He can enter any sick room, prison, or dungeon of torture - no enemy can block God out.
Now isn't that a powerful and worthy God to pray to? This God invites you and me to approach Him! Wow!
God is other than, and greater than every creature He has made. No creature exists that God did not make. He set forth all natural laws for our protection and convenience, but God doesn't have to break those "laws" to do a miracle. He is greater than His laws. That is why, when we leave the method for how God should answer our prayers to Him, God often surprises us with astonishing miracles.
God is infinite - limitless, measureless, endless. We are finite. But He wants to fellowship with us, so God has entered our finite realm through His Son, Jesus.
In fact, since God knows our thoughts and feelings and all the right answers, we can, according to Romans 8:26-27, trust the Spirit of God to help us pray to Him! Yes, God is awesome!
God is the absolute Ruler over all He has created, and nothing exists that He has not created. Therefore He is the rightful Owner and Ultimate Authority in all the universe. We are on God's turf, and subject to His rules and mercy. If God didn't give us breath - we would not last a fraction of a second. Obviously, our prayers are not going to persuade God to do differently than He planned all along. Nor does He owe us any explanations. We will go much further if we line up our will and goals with His. Find out from His Word, the Bible, what God's agenda is, and become His most enthusiastic cheerleader.
As we think about God's sovereignity we are likely to ponder some deep questions, like why does God want us to pray at all if He doesn't need any direction from us? If we were to fully understand God we would make ourselves His equal. But here's an important tip, God often does reveal His will and plans to those who faithfully obey Him. Learn to trust God in the areas you do not understand.
There are many other wonderful traits in God, and we will never fully exhaust our study of Him. So let's each of us make it our goal to study God, so we can know Him better all the time, and enjoy Him even while we pray with great faith and joy.